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Holiday scores 35 to lead Sixers to win over Knicks

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday pulled on a gray sweatshirt emblazoned with a likeness of former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali late Saturday night, along with one of Ali's signature sayings: "Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee."

The first-time All-Star did both, scoring a career-high 35 points to lead the Sixers to a 97-80 victory over the New York Knicks.

The fourth-year man, named an Eastern Conference reserve Thursday, made 16 of 25 shots from the floor and had six assists and five rebounds, helping the Sixers (18-25) snap a two-game losing streak. Philadelphia also avenged two blowout losses to the Atlantic Division-leading Knicks early in the season.

"He's been playing at an All-Star level, a superstar level, this whole season," forward Thaddeus Young said. "It just makes it even better when he became an All-Star; he came out the next day and (scored) 35."

Nick Young and Evan Turner added 20 points apiece for the Sixers, who began the night averaging 93.2 points per game, third worst in the league. But they breezed to a 29-point lead late in the third quarter and were never threatened thereafter. They shot 50.7 percent from the floor.

About the only thing that went awry for the Sixers was the departure of coach Doug Collins in the third quarter with a blocked nasal passage and sinus infection. Collins also lost a tooth before the game.

Carmelo Anthony had 25 points to pace New York (26-15). But Anthony, the league's third-leading scorer at 29 points a night, made just 9 of 28 shots from the floor. The Knicks shot 34.8 percent as a team and missed 23 of 27 3-point attempts. They began the night fourth in the league in 3-point accuracy.

Knicks center Tyson Chandler called New York's effort "really unacceptable for a divisional game, and a game that we felt like we should win."

Added coach Mike Woodson, "We just didn't have any effort tonight. It started right at the beginning -- layup after layup. We just didn't come to compete tonight, and that's kind of disappointing."

Amare Stoudemire added 20 points for the Knicks.

Knicks point guard Raymond Felton, making his first appearance after missing 12 games with a broken finger, made just 2 of 8 shots from the field and finished with eight points and three assists.

The Sixers changed their lineup, with Nick Young making just his fourth start of the year at guard and Spencer Hawes his first start at center, as the team sought to improve upon its slow starts. As associate head coach Michael Curry said, "Our first quarters have been painful."

The change allowed them to spread the floor and gave Holiday more room to operate. He made his first four shots en route to 10 first-quarter points, as the Sixers assumed a 24-19 lead. By halftime, he had scored 19 on 8-for-14 shooting, and the Sixers were up 53-41.

"I started off really well," he said. "I started off hitting. I think any basketball player, if they see the ball going in the rim, it's pretty hard to stop that."

"Nick Young and Spencer have been playing really good as of late," said Curry, who coached the team in Collins' absence. "Those two are two more scoring threats, and the floor really opens for Jrue."

The Sixers outscored the Knicks 29-12 in the first 10:32 of the third quarter to extend a 53-41 halftime lead to 82-53. Young had 14 points and Holiday 10 in that stretch.

Holiday scored 19 points in the first half, when the Sixers shot 56.1 percent from the field to take a 53-41 lead.

Anthony and Stoudemire had 14 and 12 points, respectively, for the Knicks, who shot just 35.7 percent from the field and missed 12 of their 15 3-point attempts.

NOTES: Knicks coach Mike Woodson was asked about his players accepting revised roles, now that Raymond Felton, Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert have returned from injuries. "They don't have a choice," Woodson said. "You either accept your role or you don't play." ... Woodson does not plan to play Shumpert more than 30 minutes a game. ... Sixers guard Jason Richardson missed his third straight game with a sore left knee. ... Doug Collins drew a technical foul with 3:32 left in the first quarter, arguing an illegal-screen call against Lavoy Allen. ... Sixers guard Royal Ivey and Knicks center Tyson Chandler also drew technical fouls, Ivey in the second quarter and Chandler in the third. ... The Knicks missed 12 straight shots in one third-quarter stretch.
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